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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 9 (January 1, 1930)

Science Bridges Gap between Scott and Byrd

Science Bridges Gap between Scott and Byrd.

On 12th December, 1901, Signor Marconi received at St. John, Newfoundland, the first wireless signal sent across the Atlantic; it came from the Poldhu station, Cornwall. So 12th December is a redletter day. If one dates wireless from 1901, the motor car may be said to have been born a few years before it, and flying (facilitated by motor car engine development) a few years after it. From this trinity the twentieth century has derived much of its peculiar character; two of the trinity (radio and flying) mostly bridge the immense gulf between Scott and Byrd. In thirty years the world's technical progress, thanks to invention and to the application of science to industry, has been dazzling.

In this evolution not only distance-killing transport and communications, and great and ever-increasing trade combinations, have played a part. The cinema (which figured in the cablegrams on the same day as Marconi) has been a profound social-industrial factor too. According to the League of Nations figures (Geneva, 13th Dec.) page 60 the cinema industry is third in the United States (foodstuffs first, motor-building second) and represents a world capital of 800 millions sterling, half of which is in the United States. Britain's investment totals 70 millions. Popular opinion in New Zealand impatienty awaits an effective British contribution to the new talking and sound development. Geneva says that American cinemas accommodated a hundred million spectators a week. Assured of the money of their huge home audience. American producers often fail to purge the screen talk and the screen titles of Americanisms offensive to non-American ears. Paris (8th Dec.) reports a demonstration of a French audience in a French theatre against a talking picture that “spoke English,” but this is just what some American screen artists fail to do. Owing to technical problems New Zealand depends on older countries for the cinema, and it is one of those new aids to civilisation with regard to which smaller countries have to accept fashions set elsewhere.

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